Dash camera footage was instrumental in the case against 39-year-old Bryan Hernandez, who was found guilty of assaulting two Weatherford, Texas police officers after being pulled over on an interstate off-ramp last October.
The newly released video shows Hernandez, an almost 300-pound powerlifter, attacking officers for nearly 90 seconds while high on methamphetamine, later characterized by Chief Lance Arnold as “potentially, a fight for [the officers’] lives on the side of the road.”
Though both cops sustained only minor injuries, the video shows how situations like this can quickly get out of hand, even in small-town Texas.
"Really no one puts on their uniform, vest and gear and expects or wants to be assaulted," said Arnold.
Despite that fact, Arnold also believes that the amount of scrutiny facing law enforcement on the national level has had an impact on public perception of the job they do.
"I think are more opportunities for people to not always do what we ask, or question the reliability or the lawfulness of what we ask them to do. We see a lot more of that," said Arnold.
And that questioning of reliability is precisely why technology like this is so important. This footage, though hard to watch, is an undeniable record of the events that transpired, serving as a harrowing first-hand account of how the situation escalated between Hernandez and the Weatherford officers.
Without this dash cam video, it is unlikely that the prosecution would have subsequently secured Hernandez’s more than 20-year conviction.
Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said the outcome of this case shows that attacks on Weatherford cops won’t be tolerated. While that’s true, it also says something more- namely that people are much more inclined to believe what they can see with their own eyes.